The two-volume, handwritten manuscript "Istanbul and the Bosporus: Traces of Byzantium and Ottoman Empires in Istanbul" by Ottoman historical culture researcher Mehmed Ziya Bey, has been republished in Latin by Culture, Incorporated of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
The manuscript has been deemed one of the most valuable of its kind ever written in Turkish on the history of Istanbul after "Seyahatname" (Travelogue) by Evliya Çelebi. It offers a wealth of information on the history of Istanbul with 826 pages which shed light on the past of the 8,500-year-old city.
Mehmed Ziya Bey's work depicts the events, legends, culture, architecture and neighborhoods of the ancient city, offering a wide and comprehensive perspective as well as information on the topography of the city. He also offers insight to the historic paintings, sketches and photographs that have withstood the test of time and are historical documents in their own right.
The terrain and ancient city walls of Istanbul
The first book of two books that have been printed in one volume consists of eight chapters. The first chapter is a prologue about the history of Istanbul in Byzantium times, while the second chapter provides information on the 14 major terrains of Istanbul as well as the Hagia Scala Church, known today as the Toklu İbrahim Dede Grand Mosque, the Ayos Nicolas and the Ayos Priscus Church, known as the Toklu İbrahim Dede Tomb.
The third chapter sheds light on the ancient Theodosius walls and other regions of the city, including civil and military gates. The Harbi Grand Mosque near Topkapı is also mentioned as well as the historic story about the siege of the city by the Arabs and Ottomans.
Finally, information regarding the historic meeting of Mehmed the Conqueror and Kaiser Emanuel in Beşiktaş is also explained. Chapter four depicts the topography of Yenibosna (Hebdemon) and Ayvansaray (Vlaherna), while the fifth chapter discusses the general history of Istanbul's city walls, the history of the Isaac Angelos Tower and its condition at the time the manuscript was written.
Additionally, this chapter explores the history of the Anemas Tower and the Anemas Prison as well as the restoration of the Vlaherna Castle and the ancient Byzantium city walls by the Ottomans.
The sixth chapter explores information about the gates of the city of Istanbul; namely, Demirkapı, Topkapı, Bahçekapısı, Porta Peramatis (Fish Market Gate), Porta Caravion (Ships' Gate, also known as the Dungeon Gate), Xyloporta (Wooden Gate), La Porte des Blachernes (Vlaherna Gate), the Gyrolimme Gate, the Ayazma Gate, the Unkapanı Gate (P. Platea), the Cibali Gate (La Porte aux Verres), Bâbü'l-azîz, also known as the Aya Gate, the New Gate (Porte de Ste), the Petrion Gate (Porte de Pétrion), Fener (Bacilica Porta), the Balat Gate (Porte du palais, Porte Palatienne), the Ayvansaray Gate, Edirnekapı (Myriandron, Polyandron) and Eğrikapı.
Furthermore, the gates located along the shores of the Marmara Sea are explored; namely, the Narlı Gate (Porte Aya Yannis Studion), the Samatya Gate (Psamathus ou Psomathia), the Davutpaşa Gate, Kumkapı, the Arslan Gate, the Çatladı Gate and Ahırkapı. Successively, the gates of the city walls on the Anatolian shores are also listed.
Chapter seven is about the ports of Istanbul along the Marmara shores as well as the Boucoleon Port (Le Port de Boucoleon). The topographic properties of district quarters and neighborhoods located around the walls on the shores of the Marmara Sea are also provided in the eighth chapter along with information on the Ayos Lazaros Church.
The second volume consists of seven chapters in which the writer focuses the glorious days of Istanbul during the Byzantine times. In the first chapter, the writer explores these days of glory before describing the buildings and streets located in the city center in the second chapter along with information about the graves of Revani Çelebi and Payzen Yusuf Pasha.
The third chapter explores the official lives and social lives of the Byzantine emperors and their communities; the life of the emperors, cultural ceremony traditions, the fashion traditions of clerics and soldiers, culinary traditions, industry and trade, family and parenting.
The fourth chapter explores the historical and esthetical properties of the Ayan Palace, also known as the Senato (Le Palais du Senat), the Tekfur Palace (Palais de Belisaire), the Theodosius Palace, Saray-ı Kebir-i Kayseri (Grand Palais), Saray-ı Mukaddes (Palais Sacré), Tekfur Palace and Blacherna Palace.
The writer also provides detailed information about important historic structures such as the Emperor's Palace, Daphne Palace, Triclinus and the 19-Bed Court (Delphacs), Saray-ı Mukaddes (Pale sacre), the borders of the Grand Palace, the Aya Clemen Church, Magnaura Palace and its neighborhood.
Moreover, information about Chriso Triclinus and its neighborhood, Velum, Lausiacos, Fener's Virgin Mary Church, Triconque, Keneurion and the New Church are offered in the fifth chapter, along with information on the Roman churches that still exist in Istanbul, including the Fener Church, the Kudüs-i Şerif Patriarcate Church, the Tur-i Sina Church, the Balıklı Church and the Fountain of the Virgin Mary, as well as the İbrahimîler Monastery and the Church of the Virgin Mary in Belgrad.
The sixth chapter is entirely reserved for the town of Eyüp, while the final chapter examines the topographical and historical properties of Istanbul's water reserves, the towns of Davutpaşa, Alibeyköy, Kağıthane, Sütlüce, Hasköy and the Aynalıkavak Pavilion, the Gates of Galata, the Tophane Fountain, the towns of Fındıklı, Dolmabahçe, Beşiktaş and the Beşiktaş Dervish Lodge, Sultan Selim III's summer villa on the shores of Beşiktaş, Bebek Karye, the Bebek Pavilion and the Rumelia Fortress.
The son of an esteemed father, Mehmed Ziya Bey was born in either 1866 or 1867 in the Süleymaniye district of Istanbul. He studied at the Sıbyan Primary School and went on to study at the Galatasaray Palace School, modern-day Galatasaray High School, before graduating in 1886.
As a result of his early schooling, he gained exquisite skills in French and continued his graduate studies at the Mekteb-i Sanayi-i Nefise (School of Fine Arts), before beginning to serve as an officer in the Ministry of Finance.
He became a teacher in 1889 at Gümülcine High School and then went on to teach at other high schools in the provinces of Edirne, Tekirdağ, Halep, Konya, Bursa and Mytilene. He died in Istanbul on March 27, 1930 and is buried in the Dedeler Cemetery located in Eyüp.
Mehmed Ziya Bey employed a unique literary style and scientific approach in his book which offers a wealth of information and visual depictions of the Byzantium and Ottoman landmarks and the masterpieces of Istanbul.